January 12, 2012
Civil Partnership is not the same as civil marriage – that is the message reiterated by Marriage Equality as they creep towards their fourth birthday. After the light bulb moment that occurred in 2009 when the viral video Sinead’s Hand was viewed by over 300,000 people, they premiered a follow up in August on their website which outlines a basic difference between civil partnership and civil marriage. Called Rory’s Story it explores just how devastating it can be for same sex families when the children are not seen as the legal next of kin.
A beautifully made piece Rory is your average son. He kicks a ball about, scrapes his knee and brings home a girl. The only difference is that when he brings a girl home it is to meet his two mothers. By the end of film we see Rory deprived of his human rights when his non-biological mother is in hospital and a Dr won’t speak about potentially life saving treatments because he is not legally next of kin
Such viral videos have encouraged people to get involved in a number of fundraising and volunteer efforts. Most notably Marriage Equality’s TD Campaign. ” When you join the TD campaign” Moninne Griffith of Marriage Equality says ” our volunteers will update you on what’s happening. They give you support and encouragement about making contact with your local TDs, giving lots of information on why marriage equality is needed, who your local TDs are and how to contact them.”
As a direct result of the contact that they have had from ordinary every day people coming into their constituency offices and clinics explaining why same sex couples wanted to get married and why its urgent, TDs and Senators have had the argument humanized for them. Griffith has said there has been a huge change in the levels of support ME has received from individual TDs. “ When the Civil Partnership debates were held they spoke passionately about the gays and lesbians they had met.”
Public opinion and support of the issue has risen in ME’s lifetime from 56% in 2008 to 73% in a March Red C poll but the road remains bumpy in the months ahead. “Atlantic Philanthropies, who have funded all their work to date are winding up their funding, globally and as part of that wind down process they made the decision not to fund LGBT work in Ireland. “
“It’s very scary for the sector,” says Griffith. “We depend very heavily on this funding, that they have been so generous with us. We have done some fundraising on the side but with the recession it has been very difficult.”
“Gay and lesbians want to get married for all the same reasons,” she continues. “Sometimes its for love and commitment, because people have been together a long time. Sometimes it’s because they have property and children together and they want their family to be recognised in law and have all the same rights and protections that other families have.
Griffith has high praise for most of D4’s Dail representatives. “Ruarai Quinn has been vocally supportive of marriage equality. He has spoken passionately about the centenary of the state and how he would like to see all sexualities treated equally by then. Kevin Humphries was also very articulate during the election campaign about the same sex people he had come in contact with.”
Eoghan Murphy, the young, new Fina Gael TD really impressed. “He came out very strongly in favor of Gay marriage even though its not FG policy.”
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for party mate Lucinda Creighton who has stated she is not supportive of marriage equality. “
“There is still dialogue to be had there. We have seen TDs change their mind after meeting with and talking with same sex families. Its not just human rights, its about basic decency. When she see’s that there are people in her constituency for whom this matters greatly, it has to be affecting, both as a human being and a politician. They’ll have to figure in her strategy.”
“We sent her a card when she got married wishing her all the best, saying we hoped she had a lovely day and that it is a beautiful thing to be able to stand up in front of friends and family and express your love and commitment to each other. “
“We hope someday gay and lesbian people will have the same chance.”